Tour de France: Kuss attacks late to take Stage 15 as Pogacar holds firm

By Sports Desk July 11, 2021

Sepp Kuss claimed his second ever stage victory as he triumphed at the Tour de France on Sunday, with Tadej Pogacar keeping control of the yellow jersey.

Jumbo-Visma's Kuss, who came into this year's Tour as a support rider for Primos Roglic, took his chance on the final, steepest climb of Stage 15, with around 20km of the 191.3km route into Andorra remaining.

The American rider – who won his previous Grand Tour stage in the 2019 Vuelta a Espana and is based in Andorra – held off competition from Alejandro Valverde, who looked good heading into the final descent of the day, only to burn out before he could catch Kuss.

Wouter Poels, who will take the polka dot jersey off Michael Woods, clinched third place in a sprint finish that also included Nairo Quintana.

Meanwhile, Pogacar expertly handled the general classification group, with Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) and Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) unable to close the gap.

It was a bad day for Guillaume Martin, who dropped from second in the GC to down to ninth, almost eight minutes adrift of Pogacar.

"I was really suffering a lot in this tour, I just didn't feel like I had the spice in the legs," said Kuss.

"Today I knew it was finishing where I live, I was really motivated for the stage and finally I had really good legs again, I'm so happy. 

"It was a hard day in the breakaway, I know the climb fairly well, I don't ride it so much in training because it's so hard. I knew the beginning was really tough, if I went there and got a gap I could try and hold it to the finish."

Supp's aim will now be to back Jonas Vingegaard, who kept Jumbo-Visma's dwindling GC hopes alive by moving himself into third, though he is still some way back from defending champion Pogacar.

STAGE RESULT

1. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 5:12:06
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:23
3. Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) +1:15
4. Ion Izagirre (Astana) same time
5. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education First) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 62:07:18
2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 279
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 207
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 174

King of the Mountains

1. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 74
2. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 66
3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 64

What's next?

Monday sees the final rest day of this year's race, with Le Tour resuming with a 169km route from Pas de la Case to Saint-Gaudens on Tuesday.

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  • Giro d'Italia: Bouwman claims dramatic stage 19 as Carapaz retains pink jersey lead Giro d'Italia: Bouwman claims dramatic stage 19 as Carapaz retains pink jersey lead

    Koen Bouwman claimed his second victory of the Giro d'Italia on stage 19, while Richard Carapaz maintained his three-second general classification lead on Friday.

    Jumbo Visma's Bouwman profited from a dramatic uphill finish at Santuario Di Castelmonte following a day-long five-man breakaway across the 178-kilometre race, which included a brief visit to Slovenia.

    The Dutchman, who also leads the King of the Mountains classification, watched a last-corner mistake from Mauro Schmid (QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl) forced Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroen) off the road.

    Bouwman surged through to win as Schmid recovered to take second, with Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) taking third and Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) finishing ahead of a furious Vendrame.

    However, Schmid was quick to question the last-corner problems with Bouwman and Vendrame.

    "My opinion it was not a fair sprint, it was pretty clear, my handlebars are still in front and he nearly crashed in the last corner, he just knows he's slower in the sprint and he just pushed me away. You'll see when you watch the last 100-200 metres. I can do nothing," he told reporters.

    "It was not fair in my opinion. Second place is first loser, so I'm not happy with that. I think I had it in the legs today. Of course, I'm disappointed but I want to say thanks to the team."

    Bouwman, though, offered a different version of events to Schmid as he added: "I knew there was a corner to the left but I didn't know it was this sharp. I had to brake quite hard and I knew I had to take the inside [of the corner].

    "After my first victory I said it would be really nice if I could have another one, but I also said I have to be realistic. It was my first victory as a pro. Now to win two stages in the Giro – I'm just so happy I don't have words.

    Meanwhile, Carapaz finished eighth on the same time as Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) as the general classification battle continues.

    Carapaz loses key team-mate Porte

    Ineos Grenadiers' Richie Porte was forced to abandon the Giro at stage 19 due to illness, leaving Carapaz without a key supporter for the final two summits of the race.

    Porte will be disappointed to finish his 13-year Grand Tour career in such fashion, having announced his intention to retire at the end of the season, and Carapaz was frustrated to lose his team-mate.

    "Truth is, it's been a really difficult day today. I'm really disappointed for Richie it's unlucky," he told reporters.

    "But the team is doing a good job and we're dealing with everything the best we can. We're all at a good level and trying to make it into a positive.

    "It was a little give and take today but I think we're all pretty much on the same level at the top. It wasn't such a fantastically difficult finale that it was going to break up very much."

    STAGE RESULT 

    1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo Visma) 4:32:55
    2. Mauro Schmid (QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl) same time 
    3. Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) same time
    4. Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) same time
    5. Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroen) same time

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 81:18:12
    2. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +0:03
    3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +1:05

    Points Classification

    1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 254
    2. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 136
    3. Mark Cavendish (QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl) 132

    King of the Mountains

    1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 294
    2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 103
    3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 94

  • Giro d'Italia: De Bondt wins stage 18, relief for Hindley after late puncture Giro d'Italia: De Bondt wins stage 18, relief for Hindley after late puncture

    Dries De Bondt sprinted to victory on stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia, as Jai Hindley remained three seconds adrift of race leader Richard Carapaz despite a late puncture.

    It was De Bondt among a breakaway quartet who had the pace to take his maiden victory in a Grand Tour race in Treviso on Thursday.

    The Alpecin-Fenix rider pipped Edoardo Affini, with Magnus Cort Nielsen third and Davide Gabburo just missing out on a podium at the end of a 156-kilometre route from Borgo Valsugana.

    That group of four riders made an early move and there was no catching them on a day Belgian De Bondt will never forget.

    The 30-year-old's win was his first since crossing the line first in the Belgian National Road Championships in September 2020.

    There was drama when Hindley suffered a puncture, but the BORA-Hansgrohe rider did not lose time in the general classification battle as the mechanical issue came within three kilometres of the finish.

    Carapaz finished 20 seconds after De Bondt as he retained the maglia rosa, with Mikel Landa staying in third place behind Hindley.

    "I checked Landa and Hindley all the time as I knew there could be some gaps. I want to keep the maglia rosa till the end, I trust in my legs." INEOS Grenadiers rider Carapaz said.

    Almeida ruled out after positive COVID-19 test

    Joao Almeida was fourth in the GC standings, but the Portuguese rider's race is over after he tested positive for COVID-19 following stage 17.

    UAE Team Emirates team principal Mauro Gianetti said: "We are obviously deeply upset because Joao and the supporting team were doing an excellent race.

    "Our goals were the podium of the Giro and the white jersey as best young rider, and we were fighting to win them both.

    "It is bad news, but this is the reality we have been living every day for two years. We have to accept it and look forward. Now the most important thing is that Joao recovers as soon as possible."

    STAGE RESULT 

    1. Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) 3:21:21
    2. Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) same time
    3. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education-EasyPost) same time
    4. Davide Gabburo (Bardiani CSF Faizane) same time
    5. Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) +0:14

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 76:41:21
    2. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +0:03
    3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +1:05

    Points Classification

    1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 254
    2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 132
    3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 124

    King of the Mountains

    1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 218
    2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 103
    3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 94

  • Giro d'Italia: Carapaz and Hindley neck and neck as Buitrago clinches stage 17 win Giro d'Italia: Carapaz and Hindley neck and neck as Buitrago clinches stage 17 win

    Santiago Buitrago won stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia as Richard Carapaz kept hold of the maglia rosa despite pressure from Jai Hindley.

    Colombian Buitrago had not won a Grand Tour stage before the mountainous 165km route from Ponte di Legno to Lavarone, but the Bahrain Victorious rider got off the mark on Wednesday.

    Having caught Gijs Leemreize on the final climb, Buitrago cruised to victory with a margin of 35 seconds.

    Mathieu van der Poel turned in another gutsy ride, but the Dutchman did not have enough in the tank to push on for a second stage win of the Giro after going out ahead on his own with around 65km remaining. 

    Van der Poel's compatriot Leemreize crossed the line second, almost two minutes ahead of third-placed Jan Hirt, who won Tuesday's stage.

    Hugh Carthy was fourth ahead of Carapaz and Hindley, who both finished two minutes and 53 seconds behind Buitrago.

    "It's been a really hard stage. I think we're happy – every day everything is being defined more, everything is clearing up in the GC and I'm happy to have the jersey another day," said Carapaz, who holds a three-second lead over Hindley.

    "Tomorrow will be an important day – we have to get through the remaining days, no day is easy and we've got a very difficult weekend coming up."

    Hard luck for Yates

    It has been a frustrating race for Simon Yates, who has won two stages but found himself way out of contention for the maglia rosa.

    His race is now run, with Yates withdrawing due to a knee problem, with Team BikeExchange-Jayco team doctor Matteo Beltemacchi confirming: "Despite daily therapy and Simon's tenacity, the knee pain grew worse."

    STAGE RESULT 

    1. Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) 2:27:41
    2. Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) +0:35
    3. Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +2:28
    4. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) +2:28
    5. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +2:53

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 73:19:40
    2. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +0:03
    3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +1:05

    Points Classification

    1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 238 
    2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 121
    3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 117

    King of the Mountains

    1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 218
    2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 103
    3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 94

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